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Off the Shelf Extranet Web Software Recommendation

Posted on 2010-09-02
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
Hello Experts,

One of my business friends is looking to get rid of paper, and establish a Web Site or some form of an extranet/CRM to mimic what they are doing now with their clients.

The company does career consulting work for clients, and has a well defined program with 20 different steps.  At every step of the way, there is either a new form that the client has to fill out and send as hard paper, or a new document, customized with their name is e-mailed to the customer, depending on where they are in the program.  

In short, what they are looking for is -- customer gets a new client, consultant assigned to that client logs into a web backend, and creates an account for that client (which fires off an automated e-mail depending on the program that the client signed up for).  Consultant makes some notes about the client, and checks off which step of the program the client is in, and there will be fields for notes, and calendar for entering when the next phone or in-person scheduled meeting is.  So, for example the client is in step #2, and step #2 is defined as sending an e-mail to the client with a link to click to fill out a feedback form, but also the flexibility to allow the consultant to modify the e-mail from there, or add their own notes.  

Now the owner wants also to track how much time a client spent filling out forms and reviewing a certain document (i.e. there's a PDF file that has to be read in its entirety, and he'd like to know when the PDF was opened by the client, and how long he stayed on that page reading it).  

Do you have any recommendations for a product that would allow for customization like this?  Is there a Content Management System that you know off that has the logic built in that would allow them to create such a customer portal without reinventing the wheel with custom programming from scratch?  

I was thinking Microsoft Sharepoint first, but then realized how much overhead that will be and you need to be a MS Genius to customize a site like this...  it needs to be a very secure, dynamic, professional looking product (do you think they'll need some form of a CRM)?  

The guy is ready to spend some money on a solution, but would like to keep the licensing costs low, so commercial, or open source products, ideas?  It is understood that they will have to hire some sort of a web developer to customize whatever solution is chosen -- what I'm after is what product do you know of that would take the least amount of custom work to get the desired result.
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Question by:taki1gostek
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madgino earned 250 total points
ID: 33585924
It sounds to me that a personalized solution (a site build from 0 for this) is more appropiate rather that trying to customize an existing general application.
Still beside WSS/Sharepoint you might check also force.com/salesforce.com, you can build what you want on their platform but again you need to know what you're doing and there is also a cost associated with it.
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by:Paul Sauvé
Paul Sauvé earned 250 total points
ID: 33587904
See if one of these fits the bill:
  • Hipergate Open Source CRM and GroupWare
  • CentraView - Business Management and CRM
  • Description from Internet site:
    Dolibarr ERP/CRM is a software built by modules addition (you enable only features you need), to manage small or medium companies, freelancers or foundations. We can say Dolibarr is an ERP or CRM (or both depending on activated modules).

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